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by Frank Sonderborg

Crouched with closed eyes, covered with a water-soaked bandana, I was at one with the dark. Feeling the sweep of air along the floor. The broken symmetry as it meets resistance, snaking around chairs and the table. Then movement, as the boards creak and sing as a foot moves upon them. The touch, ballerina light. Testing its weight. Then nothing as the sound disappears.

I was on the move soundlessly. But to a trained ear I was still making a disturbance in the ether. The air suddenly parted as a dart was thrown from a position to my right. And chunked into the wall panelling. Retrieving my Bowie knives from the long table, I was well away when the next flurry of darts arrived. The dark was my habitat, the Jim Bowie duel my game. I headed towards the faint creaking on my right.

Were there two duellists in the room with me? I moved silently and quickly to the middle of the great hall. With backs to the wall, I knew they patiently waited. Putting two in this dark hall with me was a bad call. All doors were locked, the room sealed, but yet here they were. The breach point could only have been through the fireplace. I concentrated on my breathing, flatlining it to virtually nothing, aware of any change. I could sense a slight imperfection in the ether. It was stealthing towards me. I embraced this knowledge and flicked my knife at the oncoming whisper of sound. Then a slight tremor from the table as a long blade came down on my exposed neck. I dropped flat, spun backwards then up and on to the table. The sound of death filled the room as my Bowie found an exposed throat.

Under cover of this I struck at the second figure perched on the table. But it was gone in a flash. Lying stretched on the table I listened intently. The gurgling sounds of death filled the room. This game was nearly over. The table trembled again as ghost-like footsteps sped towards me. I crashed into a moving body, hands upraised with a swinging sword. We fell entwined like lovers, inhaling the faint sweet smell of mimosa. I smashed him twice in the head as he twisted and turned like a muscled coiled spring. Sword fallen, he spewed some toxic liquid into my eyes as we grappled. It burned my face. A game changer if my eyes had not been covered. I head butted him and tried to stab him with my knife. He rolled free and was gone.

Moving towards the windows, I pulled the bandana away. Moonlight streamed into the hall. It was empty. I was impressed by their sense of comradeship as much as by their speed and skill. That was close. But this was no Bowie duel. It was an assassination attempt. I packed and left that very night.

Frank Sonderborg lives in the UK and does his best to write interesting stories. His stories have appeared in Action: Pulse Pounding Tales 2, Noir Nation 3, Noir Nation 5, Pulse Modern JFK Issue #6, Shadows and Light, 100 Words 100 Books: (The O’Brien Press), The Big Adios, Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chaos, Shotgun Honey and Near To The Knuckle. Check out his Amazon page at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Sonderborg/e/B00F8P3AX6 and his blog at http://franksonderborg.blogspot.co.uk/.